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CDC Lowers Threshold for Lead Poisoning – Consumer Goods that were Previously Considered Safe May be Seen as Dangerous Under New Standard

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys have long since known of the dangers that lead poisoning can cause to individuals, and children in particular. Nevertheless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reduced its threshold level for defining the amount of lead in the blood stream that is sufficient to be classified as lead poisoning in children. According to MSNBC, this is the first such reduction in 20 years.

The CDC released a statement claiming that “the recommendation was based on a growing number of scientific studies showing that even low blood lead levels can cause lifelong health effects.” This new “reference value” for lead poisoning was based on the population of U.S. children aged 1 to 5 years whose blood lead levels are in the highest 2.5 percent of children tested, said the CDC. The newly established base level for defining lead poisoning is 5 micrograms per deciliter of blood, as opposed to the previous standard of 10.

The CDC’s level-adjustment means that more children are classified as having lead poisoning under the new benchmark; approximately 450,000 U.S. children aged 1 to 5 have blood lead levels above the new standard, up from 250,000 with lead levels greater than 10 micrograms per deciliter of blood under the previous threshold, said MSNBC.

Children are particularly susceptible to lead poisoning because their developing bodies cause lead to be absorbed at a faster rate as compared to adults, which, in turn leads to more physical harm. Additionally, because children are often on the floor, either learning to crawl and walk, or when playing with toys, they are more likely to ingest or inhale dust contaminated with lead.

Symptoms of lead poisoning in children include abdominal pain, vomiting, weight loss, constipation, anemia, kidney failure, irritability, lethargy, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems. In terms of a long-term prognosis, high levels of lead in a child’s bloodstream may interfere with the development of the nervous system and may also cause potentially permanent learning and behavior disorders, as well as decreased intelligence and impaired hearing.

Currently, the CDC reports that the leading source of lead exposure to U.S. children is lead-based paint, which was banned for use in housing in 1978. Nevertheless, when the CDC tightened its regulations, items long thought to be safe may now be classified as “poisonous” based on the fact that the threshold for exposure was cut in half.

Our Chicago injury attorneys are particularly concerned about what this means for consumers and their children. The CDC recommends that parents regularly wash children’s hands and toys, and wet-mop floors and windowsills, in addition to preventing children from playing in bare soil. Furthermore, if possible, parents should refrain from buying any products with even microscopic traces of lead, and should be cautious when purchasing an older home, based on the fact that lesser amounts of exposure are still extremely dangerous.

A doctor will be able to diagnose whether you or your child has developed lead poisoning. Elevated levels of lead in a person’s bloodstream can be detected by determining the blood lead level or a urine test. Additionally dense lines in the bones of children may be seen on X-rays of children who have contracted lead poisoning.

If you suspect that you or a loved has developed lead poisoning, contact a medical professional immediately. Additionally, if the exposure to lead stemmed from a product or consumer good, contact an attorney to better understand your rights under the law.